GinkgoMountain Sickness

Ginkgo biloba’s inconsistent effects on mountain sickness

Researchers from Mesa State College, in Grand Junction, Colorado used 2 different sources of ginkgo and came to 2 different conclusions.

First, the details.

  • Two studies were conducted
  • In each, participants were randomly assigned to take ginkgo biloba extract 240 mg or placebo prior to and the day of ascent from 1600 to 4300 meters (2 hours by car).
  • Acute mountain sickness was diagnosed based on the Environmental Symptom Questionnaire III acute mountain sickness-cerebral score and the Lake Louise Symptom score and participant-reported headache.
  • Symptom severity was also determined using these scores.
  • Neither the researchers nor patients knew the treatment given — double-blind.

And, the results.

  • Results were conflicting.
  • Ginkgo biloba reduced the incidence and severity of acute mountain sickness compared to placebo in the first but not the second study.
  • The primary difference between the 2 studies was the source of ginkgo biloba extract.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The source and composition of ginkgo biloba extract products may determine the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba extract for prophylaxis of acute mountain sickness.”

Others have come to the same conclusion.

Nobody should bother to do a study of herbals without first documenting that the product contains what is stated on the label.

5/15/09 19:39 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.